Operating as a program of Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled of MetroWest, Inc. (JSDD), the WAE Center is a holistic, creative and expressive arts learning center for people with disabilities. JSDD is a multi-purpose agency dedicated to providing an integrated program of community education, advocacy and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

If JSDD’s WAE Center were a living being, the Art Studio would be its heartbeat.

The Art Studio offers opportunities for our members to explore creating fine art through painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, jewelry design, and graphic and computer arts. A dynamic staff is essential to the development of cutting edge programming. The Art Studio staff have professional backgrounds specific to their passions and talents. Student interns and volunteers augment this diverse, creative mix.


There are four basic guidelines employed  in the Art Studio:

  • Freedom of Choice – all choices are made by the individual member/artist. The professional staff offers choices, never suggestions. The artist makes all the decisions.  Each person has the freedom to create as he/she sees fit.
  • No Preconceptions – nothing is imposed, suggested or assumed. The focus is whatever the artist wants and is able to create.
  • Neutrality – the Art Studio is a “Neutral Space.” The artist’s work is never judged. The staff does not offer an opinion, but is available to support the artist in learning about him/herself as it pertains to exploring the arts.
  • Artist Assisting Other Artist – The professional staff never touch the artist’s work, unless acting on behalf of the artist and he/she has directed the staff very specifically.


To someone looking from the outside into the Art Studio, the fact that members select their own paint brushes, for example, might not seem unusual. For some of the artists, however, whose daily routine is largely determined by others, empowerment to make these decisions has a huge impact. As a result, members experience improved self-esteem and increased confidence. Members will ultimately learn that they can have greater control over their own lives and make decisions and choices in other areas of their lives. One of our driving goals is to help develop members’ independence and encourage them to live as rich and full a life as possible.


Members spend time in the Art Studio in many ways:

  • work independently in the space
  • schedule 1:1 time with an Art Studio facilitator
  • join in a specialized workshop or group session
    (these are the exception where an instructional point of view is imposed)
  • partner with another member (or more) in order to give and receive artistic support and inspiration to each other

The Art Studio, first and foremost, is “member-driven.” Workshop and group lesson curricula evolve from suggestions put forth by members. Expressed interests in working in new medium, in most instances, result in the professional staff working together with the artist to arrange to assist in accomplishing their goals.